Cooking With Wine

There are multiple uses for wine in the kitchen, some may surprise you!

  • Wine can be a great addition to your next meal, or your next glass!
    Photo by Getty Images
  • Wild Winemaking by Richard W. Bender
    Photo by Storey Publishing

According to Wild Winemaking (Storey Publishing, 2018) making wine at home just got more fun, and easier, with Richard Bender’s experiments. Whether you’re new to winemaking or a seasoned pro, you’ll find this innovative manual accessible, thanks to its focus on small batches that require minimal equipment and use an unexpected range of readily available fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. The ingredient list is irresistibly curious. How about banana wine or dark chocolate peach? Plum champagne or sweet potato saké? Chamomile, sweet basil, blood orange Thai dragon, kumquat cayenne, and even cannabis rhubarb wines have earned a place in Bender’s flavor collection. Go ahead, give it a try.

I have one of those refrigerator magnets with a favorite quote: “I always cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the recipe!” Many of the wines in this book make excellent cooking wines, but my favorite are the citrus–hot pepper blends. You may even want to make some of the herb wines specifically to use for cooking. A particularly spectacular cooking wine is Double Lemon–Lime-Basil, made with lemons, limes, lemon basil, and lime basil. This wine tastes like a citrus explosion in the mouth and works very well when cooking fish, chicken, or other fowl.

Basting Fowl

Wines, particularly herb wines, work well for basting fowl. I prefer to roast turkeys in one of those nylon oven bags, which keeps the turkey moist and tender and makes it easy to add basting liquid. You can also cook chicken and other whole fowl in oven bags.

To baste the bird, put your chosen wine in the bag with the bird: 1 cup of wine for a small bird and 2 to 3 cups for a large turkey. As the bird roasts, the steaming wine will infuse flavor into your bird. Rosemary wine is a classic choice for turkey, although any herb wine would work. I also like to use citrus–hot pepper wines for basting. For crispy, browned skin on your bird, just before the end of the cooking time, open the bag over the breast, and perhaps baste it with butter.

If you use a roasting pan, keep a lid on it to prevent the wine steam from escaping. Baste as often as you like. You can remove the lid near the end of the cooking time to brown the bird, if desired.


Almost anything you sauté in a pan can be improved by adding a little wine. Why use a store-bought “cooking wine” — a beverage that would taste terrible in a glass — when you can use your own great-tasting natural wines? Many of the wines described in this book, particularly the herb and citrus–hot pepper wines, will add unique flavor to any dish.

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